May 19, 2023
Is the dandelion a weed or a crop? It all depends on your perspective. The other day a gentleman asked me if I had any advice on raising dandelions. I knew he was joking as we looked at my yard covered with them; but while others may look at them as a weed, they don’t really bother me.
When it comes to the dandelion, we certainly do need to look at the perspective of each person. While you might think it is a weed, I can tell you several reasons it is more than a weed. The dandelion can be used as a salad green, in soups, wine and teas, according to the National Institutes of Health. The roasted root is used as a coffee substitute. Dandelions are also known to contain a potent antioxidant, could help fight inflammation and may aid in blood sugar management. While I know I have eaten dandelion leaves in salads and I’ve seen dandelion wine, these other benefits are some things I didn’t know.
Look at it from all angles
This brings me to perspective. Too often in today’s world — and even in the agricultural industry — we don’t always look at what someone is doing on their farm or ranch as being the best possible practice for that producer, just because it’s different than what is done on our farm. This could be raising continuous corn like the field next to my farmstead. It must be working for the farmer because the field has only been soybeans one time in the past 15 years. Growing organic crops or livestock isn’t for everyone, but there’s certainly a market for organic fruits, vegetables and meat, especially at farmers markets. Some prefer to plant an uncommon species — like the farmer I interviewed who raises white corn for tortilla chips, or another who raises specialty corn and wheat for vodka and bourbon production. And then those producers breeding animals for a niche market such as grass-fed pork or beef, or a specific breed of livestock to meet a specialty licensed product. Education is ongoing and may show you how to do something new that might work.
All types of production happen commonly on Iowa farms. While I raise my beef cows conventionally and grain-finish them, it doesn’t mean I believe it’s the only way. It is just what works for me. It’s my perspective. What is your perspective?
Today’s world is full of many opportunities, numerous specialty markets and the chance to make a difference in someone’s life. Look at farming from someone else’s angle. Just because it’s not your cup of tea doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for them. That dandelion in your yard could be another market for you, or a part of your 5-year-old’s bouquet.
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